When people think of Christmas, I suspect that ghost stories and paranormal literature are not the first thing that pop into their minds. Despite that, one of the most beloved works of paranormal literature is indelibly associated with Christmas and, in many ways, shaped the way we think about the holiday. I’m referring, of course, to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
You might not immediately think of A Christmas Carol as paranormal literature, but at its core, it’s a ghost story—and at times a rather frightening one. Portrayals of Marley’s ghost and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come were two of the most frightening ghosts I’d ever seen in film and they’re even more frightening when you read Charles Dickens’s original story.
What’s more, A Christmas Carol features one of the most honest and straightforward depictions of a man facing his own mortality and figuring out what his life will mean. That particular theme is one of the things that drove me to write paranormal fiction. Even when the novel isn’t frightening, its portrayal of bygone love and friendships is bittersweet and touching, as can happen in many of the best paranormal stories.
While reading about A Christmas Carol, I discovered that Dickens funded the book’s publication himself. Apparently he did this for two reasons. He was in a dispute with his publisher over earnings from The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit and he wanted to get A Christmas Carol out quickly. Although A Christmas Carol was a popular and critical success, it didn’t earn Dickens as much money as he hoped.
Even more interesting was how the book helped to alter the celebration of Christmas. In the 1820s, Christmas in England was barely celebrated. Businesses stayed open and Christmas Carols were considered a nonessential religious custom. Over the course of the 1830s, caroling grew in popularity. In 1841, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert introduced Christmas Trees to England. By 1843, the country was ready for Dickens’s depiction of Christmas as a joyful time that families spent together and soon adopted it as the norm.
I find it inspiring to think that a self-published novel of ghosts, bittersweet romance, and redemption can change the way a whole country—indeed much of the world—thinks of a holiday like Christmas. If your only experience with A Christmas Carol is through the movies—even though many of them are quite good—I encourage you to seek out the book. It’s one of the special few that I enjoy reading time and time again.
I hope that if you have any encounters with ghosts, vampires, or other paranormal entities this holiday season, they are as beneficial for you as they were for Ebeneezer Scrooge.
Happy Holidays from the Scarlet Order Vampires!